Crux Cafe – Audubon, NJ
“Deadly Gamble – The Movie” Written, Produced, and Directed by Mario Cerrito
Seems Audubon, New Jersey has been the epicenter of Southern New Jersey greatness recently. It began with Audubonian Joe Flacco, quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens winning the Super Bowl and crowed MVP of the game shining the spotlight on this tiny town. Then over the past year Audubon’s downtown has started a culinary revival with two recent restaurant openings The Kove and Crux Cafe creating an influx of hungry new visitors. Now Audubon native Mario Cerrito is hoping his hometown has what it takes to not only provide dinner, but possibly a movie people will enjoy as well. He started things off October 3rd, 2013 self publishing a book titled “Chasin’ Brandy”. The book was just his warm-up for what he really hopes will keep Audubon in the news all the way through to a Fall 2014 release of his movie “Deadly Gamble” filmed mostly in and around Audubon, New Jersey.
In order for me to find out more about this town’s dining options and starring role in a movie, I headed right to the source. I had dinner at Crux Cafe and was joined by Mario Cerrito himself.
Mario is no stranger to the movie industry. He has written many scripts with one of the most recent to be picked up and filming to begin in Spring of 2014 called “Cornfield Massacre”. He is also currently working as a Producer on two projects, “Arisen” a horror movie and “I Saw” a short film. Both currently in production and scheduled to be released in 2014.
We sat inside Crux Cafe the latest endeavor of Chef Joe Stewart, previously the Executive Chef at La Campagne and GG’s Restaurant. Chef Stewart is also a five time Make-A-Wish Foundation “Wish Dish of the Year” champion and won Ed Hitzel’s Excellence Award during his tenure at GG’s. With that kind of experience, he brings high hopes and expectations to a town not known as a dining destination. I decided to start with hazelnut encrusted shrimp, one of Chef Stewart’s well known dishes from his past. It was three colossal shrimp, encrusted with toasted hazelnuts, deep fried and served with a Frangelico dipping sauce.
The appetizer was an interesting mix of flavors, but not worthy of calling it a signature dish or must try by any means. The shrimp were slightly dry and a larger serving of dipping sauce could enhance it immensely. I commend Chef Stewart for exposing a new clientele base to something new and out of the ordinary, but not when it should have been executed better and could possibly add a few more shrimp for the price point he has settled on for this dish.
After enjoying his appetizer, Mario shared with me what has become his main entree, “Deadly Gamble”. It started by working with Renoly Santiago, an actor in big Hollywood films such as “Dangerous Minds”, “Con Air”, “Daylight”, and “Hackers”. They co-wrote a script for a television pilot called “Union City Streets” in June/July 2013. During that time Mario shared the script of “Deadly Gamble”with Renoly who fell in love with it. Mario was able to get “Deadly Gamble” financed by a Chicago businessman and made into a film with him being the writer, producer, and director of the film. Mario is in charge of a production crew of fifteen and over thirty cast members. Renoly was originally slotted as lead role in the film, but unfortunately his schedule prevented him from working on the project. Even though Renoly was unavailable, Mario was still able to land well known and talented actress Lyssa Roberts who just worked with Richard Gere in the movie “Franny” that filmed recently in Philadelphia.
Now the time had come for me to enjoy some duck, my main entree at Crux Cafe. It was seared duck breast, accompanied by duck leg risotto, baby bok choy, shitake mushrooms and orange gastrique.
Any missteps Chef Stewart may have had with the shrimp, were immediately erased out of my memory with his duck entree. Every piece of duck was succulent and tender, not rubbery or greasy at all like so many duck dishes I have had at other establishments. The duck leg risotto really was a highlight. Nice large pieces of duck meat floating about in a risotto that was cooked and seasoned to perfection. The baby bok choy and shitake mushrooms really enhanced the overall flavor profile creating a unique taste in every bite while the orange gastrique throughout pushed it from great to grand. With this dish I now see why Chef Stewart has been able to win so many cooking competitions.
With blink of an eye, the end credits started to roll at Crux Cafe. Plates were cleared, check was paid, and pleasantries exchanged all around. It was the perfect way to end the night in a town and people looking to make a name for themselves in many different ways. Can Audubon keep up the pace and continue to stay in the headlines? Only time will tell, but what I can tell you is that with professional athletes such as Joe Flacco, restaurateurs like Chef Stewart and movie maker Mario Cerrito at the helm, Audubon is becoming a bigger star than it could have ever imagined for itself.
Crux Cafe Overall Rating – Three and Half Stars out of Five
Potential of movie “Deadly Gamble” – Two Thumbs Up
More information and updates about “Deadly Gamble” can be found here https://www.facebook.com/DeadlyGambleMovie
For more information on Crux Cafe can be found https://www.cruxcafe.com